Storyglossia Issue 38, February 2010.

An Interview with Antonios Maltezos


Antonios Maltezos's "A Gulp of Air" appears in Storyglossia 38. Here, Antonios takes a few moments to discuss the origins of the story, pace, revision, how outside work influences writing, and what he's currently at work on.


Anne Valente: Where did the premise of this story come from?


Antonios Maltezos: It actually began with an image I culled from memory—the whale rising from depths. We'd rented a cabin up on a cliff by the mouth of the mighty St. Lawrence. As I was stuffing the last of our things into the back of the station wagon, I heard a strange sound. Kinda like a fight going down in a corner of the schoolyard. It drew my attention. There were a bunch of seagulls floating in the water down below, squawking like there was no tomorrow (right. time stood still in that moment). Next thing I know, I beheld a sight I swallowed in one gulp. Instantaneous reverence. I tried calling out to the family, already buckled in their seats. They were tired and eager to be home. Finally the words! A whale! But as quickly as he appeared, he was gone. Sadly, the experience became mine and mine alone, my family too exhausted and cranky to fly out of the car and land by my side. I'll never forget the sight of that whale, but also my failure, somehow, to not have my wife and children share with me that glorious moment.


AV: The pace of this story moves almost as a stream-of-consciousness narrative. How difficult was this to construct, as you wrote?


AM: It was easy as the sections came to me while I was in one particular frame of mind for an extended period of time. They were essentially flashes that fit perfectly together. Something I've enjoyed doing in the past, as with my story, "My Dead Partner," in issue twelve of Per Contra.


AV: Due to that dreamlike quality - and one that interacts nicely with the narrator's struggle between waking and sleeping—was this piece difficult to revise? Did it require much revision?


AM: Hardly any revisions with this one. I enjoyed writing it, and I think I was mostly writing it for myself. I wasn't hampered by thoughts of technique and craft. Writing as therapy! That's what it was. Call it an adult version of those dark and poetic, quasi-suicidal and romantic, 1st person pieces some of us wrote as the desire to become writers took hold.


AV: You work as the associate editor of Vestal Review, and also in a tavern-style restaurant. Does your work—both editing and otherwise—ever influence your writing?


AM: We can't help being influenced by the work we do. I think editing has calmed me down, and invariably, I've grown up, in many respects. It's curious, but I see myself on a level with the writers who submit to Vestal Review. Their failures, or errors, or shortcomings, are my own, because I can see how they came up with what they have. I've either been there, or am wallowing in it as I read the subs. I can also rejoice with them when the sub is spot-on. I can sense what a joy it must have been to write those nifty words down in a string to make beautiful logic. I'm propped up as I make my discovery of them and their accomplishment.


Does reading for Vestal Review make me a better writer? Again, curiously, recognising something good and great in someone else isn't at all like doing it for yourself.


As for the restaurant work, I've always kept it apart from my writing. I think because I have to become someone else as I park the car before entering the establishment. Literature and chicken brochettes have never been a good mix for me. I even speak differently when in the kitchen. Requires a different set of skills getting through a supper service and writing a short story. I'm trying to bridge this chasm with a collection of essays.


AV: Your stories have appeared in a number of journals, including Night Train, Smokelong Quarterly and PANK. Any stories forthcoming that we can point readers to? What are you currently working on?


AM: Well, there's this one that I was dying to advertise as forthcoming because I'm so proud to finally get into Storyglossia. But the truth is I haven't been subbing as much as I would like. The Foundling Review has a special flash issue coming out in March where I'm included.


I'm working on my longer stories, at the moment, as well as gearing myself up to continue my novel. As an extra activity, I'm working on a slim volume of "truth be told" essays on the inner-workings of a restaurant kitchen. Lots of gore and detail. Not for the squeamish.



Antonios Maltezos has stories in Night Train, Smokelong Quarterly, Pank, Dogzplot, Pequin, Per Contra, Flashquake, Elimae, Hobart, and many other journals and mags. He is an associate editor at Vestal Review, and runs a tavern-style kitchen near Montreal, Quebec.